Flipped Classrooms and Online Discussions
The term “flipped classroom” is one of the biggest buzzwords in education today. A flipped classroom is defined as “a form of blended learning in which students learn content online by watching video lectures, usually at home, and homework is done in class” (Flipped classroom, n.d., para. 1). I like the concept of flipped classrooms, but I think a lot more can be done with them.
I get the sense that many teachers view flipped classrooms as an all or none situation where they need to record a lecture/PowerPoint or show a video. It could be simpler than that. A teacher could assign a reading and ask questions for the students to discuss in an asynchronous discussion format. Asynchronous discussions allow people to talk to each other without being in the conversation at the same time. In contrast, all parties need to be involved at the same time like in a phone call or chat room in synchronous discussions. A person can post to the discussion and someone else can respond at a later time with asynchronous discussions (think of a forum like in many website customer service centers). By doing this, the students have read the materials and started a discussion the teacher can build on in the next class. In addition, a teacher can look at the discussion forum ahead of time to identify any misconceptions or key points they might want to address. By using a forum, students must also participate if they want credit as opposed to hiding in the back of the classroom. In an online discussion, students earn credit through actual participation rather than just seat time. You can also require certain criteria for earning credit like using a credible and cited outside source. In the past I have provided students with the following criteria for earning credit for a post:
Students will respond to open ended discussion questions. Responses will be thorough, well-written responses of 150-300 words. Responses will also be substantiated with credible online research and cited in APA format.
Possible resources for holding asynchronous discussions include:
- Google Groups
- Wikis such as PB Wiki
- Moodle discussion forums
- PB Works
- Blogs can also be used with the initial post as the prompt and the comments section as the discussion.
Here is a link to a post about using asynchronous discussions in your classes.
As a side note, forums can also be used for basic communication like checking in with students to get a status report of how they are progressing with a long term project. You can also have them do weekly reflections in a forum although their responses can then be viewed by the whole class.
All this being said, there is nothing wrong with the traditional concept of the flipped classroom. I am just offering something a little different. Check out the TedTalks flipped classroom resource at TedEd. This site offers a large library of videos with premade flipped lessons, but you can modify the lessons to meet your needs. Here is a link to a post I wrote about TedEd and other excellent video sources: 5 YouTube Video Channel Resources for Teachers.
Flipped classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved February 04, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flipped_classroom